Surprising health benefits of marriage

Family & Relationships

by Cherese Wiley, MD

Nov 7, 2016

Your spouse could be improving your health in ways you’ve never realized. A new study says marriage may help people with type 2 diabetes keep the pounds off.

Researchers in Japan studied people with type 2 diabetes and found that those who were single doubled their risk of being overweight when compared to those who were married. Diabetic men who lived with their spouses were also 58 percent less likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of factors like abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar that increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

The researchers didn’t find a connection between marital status and metabolic syndrome in women. But that doesn’t mean marriage benefits the husband’s health more than the wife’s. Other studies have found that marriage offers many health benefits for both spouses:

  • Love can be good for your heart. A study earlier this year found that married people have higher odds of surviving a heart attack.
  • Other research has linked marriage with a lower risk of developing cancer and being diagnosed with dementia.
  • Married cancer patients are more likely to survive the illness than those who are single and develop the disease. Death rates among unmarried cancer patients are higher, especially among single men.
  • Marriage can also reduce stress and depression.

One thing to consider is the overall happiness in the marriage. Marital conflict can lead to poorer health, and happier marriages make for healthier people.

There are a few possible reasons married people might be healthier than singles. Your partner offers you a close sense of support that’s always available. They offer accountability, reminding you that you shouldn’t eat this unhealthy food or that you should have one less drink. Married people are also less likely to engage in risky behavior.

It has been proven that people take better care of themselves when someone else is invested in their happiness.

About the Author

Cherese Wiley, MD, is an internal medicine physician on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

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